Coronavirus pandemic impacts Key West’s beloved Cates family: 1 dead, 2 hospitalized

MIAMI – The coronavirus pandemic has really hurt the Cates family in Monroe County, and the close-knit Conch Republic community is rallying around them.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is planning to ring the bell 28 times starting at 12 p.m. on Friday in honor of Cheryl Hollon Cates and the 27 other Monroe County victims of the pandemic.

The Monroe County commission met on Thursday and paid tribute to the Cates family for their devotion to public service.

This while Craig Cates, the former long-time mayor of Key West, and his 35-year-old daughter, Crystal Cates, are suffering from COVID-19 and remained hospitalized on Thursday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Cates’ two other daughters, Tammy and Nicole Cates, are supporting their father and sister while grieving the loss of their mother.

“Dad is on the fight of his life and now has to deal with heartbreak as well,” Tammy Cates Berard wrote on Facebook.

Cates and Hollon Cates wed in 1971. They were high school sweethearts and served Key West as mayor and first lady from 2009 to 2018. They co-owned several businesses together and she also worked as a real estate broker.

On Wednesday, while at Jackson Memorial Hospital, near her husband and daughter, Hollon Cates became Monroe’s 28th victim of the pandemic. She was 67.

“She was the most beautiful, loving, unselfish woman most of us have ever had the privilege of knowing,” Cates Berard wrote. “She gave her whole heart, time and talents to the island she loved so much.”

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